VAN, Turkey — An Afghan mother was seen sobbing on a seat in a bus stop in eastern Turkey in the days leading up to the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul while her children wailed at her feet. The scene took place in Afghanistan.
As part of an intensive crackdown by Turkey to apprehend Afghans crossing from Iran by the thousands and to prevent journalists from reporting on their plight, fourteen Turkish security and migration officials swooped down on her and other Afghan asylum seekers as they were being interviewed by reporters from The New York Times. Other Afghan asylum seekers were also among those targeted.
Another Afghan, Gul Ahmad, who is 17 years old, remarked, “We came out of hopelessness.” “We were aware that if the Taliban had gained control, they would kill us in one of two ways: either via combat or by recruiting us. Therefore, the family decided that this was the best choice for them.
Even before the terrifying scenes that took place at the Kabul airport this past week, many thousands of Afghans had been steadily fleeing their country over land, making their way approximately 1,400 miles across the length of Iran to the Turkish border. These people were attempting to escape the Taliban, who had taken control of much of the country. Their own frantic attempts to flee the Taliban have been enacted in more subdued, but not less excruciating, scenes at distant border crossings like the one in the eastern city of Van.
According to the International Organization for Migration, in recent months, as the mission that was conducted by NATO in Afghanistan was failing, 30,000 Afghans left their country every week, many of them crossing the border into Iran. They have surpassed Syrians as the largest group of newly arriving migrants, moving to the top of the list of asylum seekers trying to make their way to Turkey, and then to Europe. This occurs despite the fact that overall migration numbers have decreased since the peak in 2015, when they were at their highest point.
People have begun selling their property and discussing leaving the country permanently now that the Taliban are in control of the government. This is a clear indication that the number of people leaving will increase even further in the near future.
In recent weeks, many Afghans have been questioned and have stated that they have walked into Turkey in huge groups, sometimes numbering hundreds of people, but that only a small percentage of them have been successful in escaping Turkish border officials. They claimed that there were thousands of Afghans congregating in the border region of Iran.
The timing of the final chapter of the war in Afghanistan has left Afghans at the end of the line, and very likely without any recourse. This is due to the fact that recent violent upheavals around the world have resulted in the displacement of millions of people, whether from Iraq, Syria, or parts of Africa.
As is the case in Europe, the public attitude in Turkey has turned towards immigrants and refugees, which has occasionally resulted in acts of violence, such as fights with knives and a recent attack on the homes of Syrians in the capital city of Ankara. Afghans, human rights observers, and even government officials have all stated that the scale of Turkey’s pushback has substantially escalated over the past month.
Because of the deterioration in the state of the Turkish economy, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey views the burden of hosting so many refugees as a burning political issue. Turkey is currently sheltering more than 300,000 Afghans and 3.6 million Syrians, among other nationalities. He has made it quite apparent that he has no intention of allowing any additional Afghans to enter the country.
When photographs emerged on social media in recent weeks showing columns of Afghan migrants walking through Iran toward Turkey, opposition politicians accused Mr. Erdogan of negotiating a deal with the European Union to host the growing number of Afghans who are arriving, similar to what he had done for Syrian refugees.
Mr. Erdogan has frequently cited the threat posed by migrants as leverage in negotiations with the European Union, while at the same time, his police have for a long time launched harsh operations to control the number of migrants and attitudes at home. He has, however, lambasted Western nations for their expectation that less developed countries will shoulder the burden of the immigration problem.
“Europe, which has become a centre of attraction for millions of people, cannot stay out of this problem by firmly closing its borders in order to protect the safety and prosperity of its citizens,” he said in a televised speech last week. “Europe cannot stay out of this problem by firmly closing its borders in order to protect the safety and prosperity of its citizens.” “Being Europe’s refugee depot is not Turkey’s duty, responsibility, or obligation,” you can quote me as saying.
Aug. 23, 2021, 1:03 p.m. ET
In the case that there is another wave of migration from Afghanistan, Mr. Erdogan issued a stern warning to German Chancellor Angela Merkel via phone call on Sunday, stating that his nation “will not be able to take the additional weight.” It was brought to Ms. Merkel’s attention that Turkey “had already taken in five million refugees.”
Afghans who were interviewed in Van claimed that Turkey has increased security along its border in recent weeks through a sweeping and frequently violent police operation. As a result, Afghans who requested asylum were denied entry into Turkey notwithstanding their demands.
According to a statement issued by the office of the governor of Van, Turkish border guards and military police conducted a single operation in the month of July that resulted in the rounding up and deportation of more than 1,400 Afghans who had entered Turkey illegally.
As they attempted to travel further into Turkey, hundreds of additional people, including women and children, have been held in places all over eastern Turkey.
According to Mahmut Kacan, a lawyer in Van who specialises in refugee and asylum issues, such expulsions violate the international convention on refugees. Kacan’s practise focuses on representing those who are seeking asylum or protection.
According to him, very few Afghans are aware of their rights under international law, but Turkey does not even adhere by its own regulations, which state that migrants should have the right to an appeal procedure before being deported.
Gain an understanding of the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban.
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Just who are these Taliban people? The Soviet Union withdrew its forces from Afghanistan in 1989, which led to a period of instability in Afghanistan that culminated in the formation of the Taliban in 1994. They enforced their laws by resorting to cruel public penalties, such as floggings, amputations, and mass killings, among other such practises. Here is some further information on their history as rulers as well as their genesis story.
Who exactly are the leaders of the Taliban? These are the most senior commanders of the Taliban, guys who have spent years on the run, hiding, being imprisoned, or evading American drones while they have tried to further their cause. There is very little information available about them or the way in which they intend to govern, and it is unknown whether or not they will be as tolerant as they claim to be.
Where do Afghanistan’s female citizens go from here? During the most recent period in which the Taliban held control, they prevented women and girls from working in most professions or attending schools. Since the fall of the Taliban, Afghan women have made significant progress; nevertheless, they are now concerned that this ground may be lost. Officials affiliated with the Taliban are attempting to convince women that their situation will improve, but there are indications that, at least in some regions, they have begun to reimpose the rule that existed previously.
According to another Afghan, Abdul Wahid, who was also detained at the same time, the Afghan family that was recently detained in the Van bus station was transferred to a migrant facility and then was expelled back to Iran within days without due process. Abdul Wahid was also detained at the same time.
In an interview conducted before they were apprehended, the husband, Najibullah, 30, said that they had made the arduous three-day trek into Turkey with their one-year-old twins three times in recent weeks, only to be pushed back each time. Each time, they were unsuccessful in their attempt to enter Turkey. He stated that the children had experienced a significant weight loss.
His wife, Zeineb, who is 20 years old, seems to have been severely traumatised by the incident. “It would have been preferable to stay in Afghanistan and die there rather than make this voyage,” she commented at one point. Due to the fact that they lacked proper documentation in Turkey, they were only willing to provide their first names.
The family, who were of Uzbek ethnicity, had to leave their home in northern Afghanistan two months before to that because the Taliban had taken control of their district. “We had nothing,” Najibullah remarked. “They would give us instructions to cook food for them. We were scarcely able to provide for ourselves.”
Following his stay of four days at a migrant centre, Mr. Wahid was deported, and he communicated with his family in Iran by telephone to let them know what had transpired.
Mr. Wahid, who had been residing in Turkey, had travelled to Van in order to provide assistance to his wife and two children as they attempted to enter the country from Iran. According to him, they had attempted to enter Turkey ten times in recent weeks in order to cross the border and join him in Istanbul, where he was working in a textile industry. However, each time they crossed into Turkey, the police had apprehended them and sent them back over the border. According to him, at one point they were held in custody in the town of Tatvan, which is located more than 160 kilometres from the border.
“Asylum was something my wife inquired about,” he stated. “She stated that she was planning on enrolling her children in school. At first they gave the all clear, but later they deported her.
Many of the Afghans who were interviewed stated that they were looking for opportunities to improve their economic situation; nonetheless, they left the country because of the advances and massacres carried out by the Taliban. Recent interviews with a dozen people over the course of two days revealed that two of those individuals had family members who had been murdered by the Taliban.
Ilias, a 15-year-old boy wearing a bright yellow T-shirt and a black jacket, said he had fled with three friends from their home village in Daikundi in central Afghanistan after his father was killed by advancing Taliban forces three or four months ago. Ilias said he had fled with his friends after his father was killed by the advancing Taliban forces.
“People started to defend my village when the Taliban started to assault our area, and that’s when my father was slain,” he added. “The Taliban started to attack our region after people started to protect my village.” He pointed to himself and two other people with whom he was travelling and stated, “We three are from the same area and we managed to get out.”
They were questioned by the Taliban along the way, then robbed by human traffickers in Iran, and by the time they arrived in Turkey, they were unable to continue their journey because they did not have any food or money.